I was talking with Sophia Liu at Defrag, and disagreed with her a bit about one thing she said as she was describing the dissertation she’s working on. I said that relevancy ranking and curation are different things. But then I thought about it for a moment and realized that given what my book (“Too Big to Know”) says, and what I had said that very morning in my talk at Defrag, they are not different at all, and Sophia was right.

Traditional filters filter out. You don’t see what fails to pass through them: You don’t see the books the library decided not to buy or the articles the newspaper decided not to publish. Filtering on the Web is different: When I blog my list of top ten movie reviews, all the other movie reviews are still available to you. Web filters filter forward, not out. Thus, curation on the Web consists of filtering forward, which is indistinguishable from relevancy ranking (although the relevancy is to my own sense of what’s important.)